Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Iron Spring Farm

Last week I had the opportunity to shadow my daughter at her work at the Iron Spring Farm in Coatesville, PA. Melissa is responsible for the health and well-being of the horses. After Lissa gave me the grand tour, we dropped into the heated barn space where a visiting vet was preparing to do a series of x-rays on one of the horses using a portable x-ray device about the size of a VHS Camcorder which was connected to an ordinary laptop. Now this wasn't because the horse had any particular health issue; it is now simply standard practice at this farm to periodically do a series so as to have a history of any changes over time and to be able to catch any problem early on. When the veterinarian took a shot of some region, it took only 6 seconds for the x-ray to render on the laptop. He would check it out right on the laptop . . compare to an earlier picture if needed. . .and then go to the next region. I would guess he probably did about 3 dozen shots. All these images are archived with backups and can be accessed quickly in a variety of combinations when they are needed.

The veterinarian said that he had purchased the unit two years ago, that it was initially quite expensive, but that it had paid for itself in a very short time in helping him to diagnose issues earlier. Of course, I would not expect our students to use potentially dangerous x-rays, but don't you suppose it is a valuable skill to understand how things change over time and that time-lapse photography can be a tool to make this understanding more obvious?

With digital photography so inexpensive these days, shouldn't we use it more in our schools?

1 comment:

Sarah Sutter said...

I couldn't agree more! Documenting student proficiencies, performances, products, and experiences is easily done with digital photography (or video). Hand the camera to the kids and let them document their learning. Watch kids with cameras be further engaged with the content of the field trip, classroom lab, or presentations by others. It's only one aspect of necessary documentation, but it is accessible and so simple - not to mention fun! There are some data storage and organization issues, but they are surmountable. If you can put the images and video in an accessible point for all the students, the potential for using the multimedia for reflection magnifies.